Opportunity to Coach Basketball to Youngsters in the Middle East Has Smith Feeling Buoyant

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), July 17, 2009 | Go to article overview

Opportunity to Coach Basketball to Youngsters in the Middle East Has Smith Feeling Buoyant


Byline: George Schroeder The Register-Guard

The other day, Bev Smith found herself surprised at her buoyancy - and we're being literal here.

The former Oregon women's basketball coach was taking some time off. Getting away from it all. Basking in the sun. Bobbing like a cork.

You might have heard, the Dead Sea is the lowest place on Earth. Again, literally; it's 1,300 feet below sea level. Also, it's almost nine times saltier than the ocean, which is why Smith floated without effort.

People come from all over the world for the dry air, and the minerals, and they pronounce themselves rejuvenated. This pretty much describes Smith's current status.

You wouldn't have predicted it, and neither would Smith.

When Pat Kilkenny dismissed her last March, it was a low point, and she figured it would be a while before she bounced back.

But here she is on the other side of the world, doing what she loves best.

Smith is spending most of the summer in Amman, Jordan. She's working with the Jordanian Basketball Federation, helping coach the women's national team and conducting camps and clinics for eager youngsters.

And she's having a blast.

"Pretty incredible," she says by telephone. "I didn't think I'd be back in a gym this quickly. But it's been good for me."

Yeah, Smith is doing OK. She says she's come to terms with losing the job she loved at the alma mater she still loves.

After the 2007-08 season, Smith was told it was NCAA Tournament or bust. And when the Ducks started going bust - first with injuries, and then under the stress of a collapsing season - everyone knew what was coming.

Four months later, Smith won't talk much about whether she got a fair shake. She says she remains close to several players, and wishes "nothing but the best" for them and the program.

"The results I didn't get as coach of Oregon will always hang a little heavy in my heart," Smith says. "In your head, you knew you did the best you could, and there were some circumstances you couldn't control.

"But (Oregon) is in my heart and always will be."

Smith isn't sure what the future holds. She's a finalist to become executive director of Kidsports, the Eugene-based youth organization. …

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